Developing Thorough Ideas and Information
by Lola M. Schaefer
Do the Details Thoroughly Explain the Topic?
Every reader enjoys an interesting narrative or informative essay. What elements draw a reader into the writing? Rich details, for one— fascinating facts, thoughtful quotes, or vivid descriptions that tell the reader something he or she didn’t know beforehand. Students know the difference between engaging and boring writing. They want to support their ideas with specific details and information. They want their writing to pop and grab the reader’s attention. You can help them recognize that the use of specific terms, dates, descriptions, or actions can develop their topic in such a way that readers will be surprised and satisfied.
Introducing the Craft Element: Developing Thorough Ideas and Information
Begin your mini-lesson on developing thorough ideas and information like this:
Teacher: If you were given a choice between viewing a short video summary or the full-length presentation of the newest action movie in town, which would you want to watch?
Student: I’d want to see the whole movie. The short video wouldn’t have all the good scenes.
Student: I’d want to see the whole thing so I could talk to my friends about all of the great parts.
Teacher: So, you don’t think that summaries have a lot of great parts? Students: No. Teacher: Why not? Student: Because a summary just tells you the general story. It doesn’t give you any of the details. You’d miss out on all the great action scenes.
Teacher: And do you like details?
Student: Sure, that’s the good stuff—that’s what makes it interesting.
Teacher: I feel the same way. Details add interest to movies, books, art, and music. Details are the elaborate bits that pull us deeper into the meaning of the piece. Let’s look at three written samples on the whiteboard and think about how each one develops ideas and information with specific details.